Friday, September 30, 2011

Buzo Trattoria, Paddington

September is a favourite time of year. Spring is in the air, warmer weather and the prospect of longer days around the corner. It is also a month of birthday madness because we love having month long birthday celebrations, that's how we roll. It's an Empty Fridge thing. So to celebrate our beloved Gianna's birthday I thought it would be nice to have a Buzo birthday bash. We have both been wanting to come and check Buzo out for a long time so we were in luck  that 'said' Princess had a birthday that fell on a quiet Monday night.
Upon entering and being seated we felt quite at ease. Buzo is a cosy and intimate place and what better way to capitalise on the mood but with  a bottle of wine. Seeing as though it was Monday night there was no mucking about. I mean you have to have a drink on Monday to cope with the start of the work week. The wine list is quite extensive and well worth reading through as there are quite a number of really nice sounding wines. We ended up settling with a Blaufrankisch Austrian bottle. Such an easy drink that went well with the food that was to follow.
To get things started we ordered a bowl of warm sicilian green olives with fennel &lemon $8. Nothing gets a party started quite like olives. Sicilian olives are a favourite and we simply couldn't say no. Little round spheres of green salty goodness lathered in olive oil are quite addictive. Yum.  
Carne crudo $20 was something that stood out on the menu for me. Whilst perusing through the menu; glancing over the words hand cut wagyu topside was burnt into my retinas. With oil, parsley, lemon and chunks of crostini it was most definitely on for young and old.
The dish was beautiful. A nice mound of nicely garnished wagyu was brought out and of course some nice pieces of crostini to eat it all up. There is a certain roughness and simplicity behind this dish that makes it a definite pick when seen on any menu. Whether it's called steak tartare, carne crudo or cruda, do yourself a favour and give the fresh dish a go at least once. You won't be dissapointed.
Deep fried chicken wings, chilli, garlic, parsley, fennel pollen & aged balsamico $20. Looking back I don't think under any circumstance this dish could've been avoided. Just thinking back and looking at the photos makes me hungry. Perfectly crispy skin, juicy chicken and beautiful seasoning made this an absolute winner. Combined with the aged balsamico made it even better. A really nice combination of flavours and really unexpected find in an Italian restaurant. Bravo I say.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Barrio Chino, Potts Point

Taco's and Tequila - Barrio Chino would always be a place after this girls heart.
Continuing the birthday celebrations, I decided to take the little familia out for a mexican fiesta at this cool new place at Pott's Point. I was lucky enough to visit Barrio Chino on opening night and got my first taste of their potent margaritas and delectable dishes, I was certain that the place would be perfect for a celebratory dinner.
And what a celebration it was! Mexican beers was came in from every direction, and on a warm night the Tecate was quite popular on our table. I've tried this before at Mamacita's with the other half, where they laced the can with salt. I much prefer the light flavour with just the lime. We were adamant that Tommy's Margarita ($16) had to be present that night. After knocking back a few during the opening, I was craving that deliciously sour and potent tequila hit. The drink menu spells it out in the description "No Shitty Tequila. No Sour Mix" can't say no to that! I also tried the Barrio Mule ($16) Herradura reposado tequilla, lime and ginger beer - hands down better than any vodka mule by far
Barrio Chino can be found in the heart of Pott's Point, or King's Cross rather and taking up the old site of Zachary's. Its a great new addition to what is now becoming my new favourite eating strips. Could it be the old age? I'm now dining on Bayswater road instead of stumbling out in the footpath? We'll see.
Okay amigos, now for the food. There is plenty to cover so for the sake of your mexican cravings I'm going to keep this easy and brief. I am loving that the BBQ Corn Cob ($6) is so present in Sydney at the moment. I'm finding that it's the dish I have to order if its on the menu. The Bario Chino version is light on the mayo creaminiess (which I quite liked) but the spicy flavour hits you good. Its not buried under a ton of cheese either so you can enjoy the sweet and smokey corn kernels.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Booth Street Bistro, Annandale

Oh September, the best month of the year! Once you get that first breath of warm air into your lungs then you know that the time for hibernation is over. September is my favourite month because I celebrated my birthday on Monday and my goodness did we drag on the celebrations! Since my birthday this year was on a Monday, I figured that I get the weekend before and the weekend to celebrate away.
Demos and I kicked off the weekend and the boozy celebrations that followed with a birthday breakfast at Booth Street Bistro in Annandale. It was a very very late breakfast after a long weekend sleep in and it look like we had beat the breakfast rush, but hey - the sun was out, so whats the rush?
Well, we really aren't in the business of lying to you guys..we were curing a few sore heads as per usual so the espresso and piccolo latte kicked off the recovery. There was no better way to start the day and the (first of several) birthday celebrations. Demos and I were able to drink our respective coffee's without any sugar and I know I find that when you have that first coffee of the morning this allows you to appreciate the flavour so much more. This morning, the strong caffeine flavour was the first to attack my tastebuds and that lovely bitterness lingered on until our food arrived. The booth street beans are provided by single origin roasters and it was a great, potent blend.
I had been craving some serious complex carbohydrates as usual.. and this particular selection does not fall into my standard fare. Nothing could sway me from choosing the Sauteed Potatoes with a poached egg, and chilli jam $13.50

Friday, September 9, 2011

Xanthi Bar and Restaurant, Westfield Sydney CBD

Xanthi is a city in Thrace, North Eastern Greece. Generally speaking, somewhere down my Greek genetic line there is some ancestry there. Apparently, I come from a line of barbarian warrior Greeks of the North; fitting isn't it? Geography and family olive trees aside, Xanthi is the spectacular new Greek restaurant in the premium dining precinct at Westfield Sydney. It is owned and run by David Tsirekas of the legendary Greek Restaurant Perama. Lucky for the Sydney dining scene; David has forged his blood, sweat and tears in this new project.
You can say that Xanthi is a bigger, badder and better Perrama. It's unfair to draw comparisons between the two but if the restaurants were two rival warring Greek nations Xanthi would definitely be Sparta. Just rest assured it's pretty badass. Like Gerard Butler in 300 badass. Just look at that vertical spit; if that doesn't get you hankering for a mean meal, then stick to your yeeros mate.
So after a long and very strenuous day of shopping (suprisingly; it was me who came out victorious, and not the warrior princess this time around) we could think of nothing better than to go and enjoy Xanthi for ourselves. Now when Greek food comes to mind most people think of big banquet style meals that fill you, just like Sunday lunch at Yia Yia's. However; Xanthi has a menu where you can pick ouzomezedakia, small plates of food to pick on and share whilst sipping on some ouzo or wine. The thought just takes me back to the motherland. Of course we settled on the BBQ Haloumi $10.00, always a standard pick being a favourite Greek dish. Served in a small black bowl and garnished with oregano you can't go wrong. Make it swim in lemon and it's like you are back in Greece. Well not quite but it's nice to think that you are.
Our next small plate was the Fried school prawns $9.00. This was tossed in honey, fish sauce, sesame seeds and almond flakes - the combinations of flavours make it an absolute winner. This was easy to pick at and share; having a more complex flavour than your average salt and pepper school prawn offerings. Ouzo would've made a very nice accompaniment, an idea for next time. 

Feeling drained from the days activity's and the fact that it was still early on, we didn't have any ouzo despite the novel ouzo trolley standing by. It's a nice touch that Xanthi has one of the largest varieties of ouzo, tsipouro (aka lighter fluid) and Greek brandy. One can sit back and pick at some food, shoot back a shot or ten and flick those worry beads whilst going through a pack of Marlboro reds. Sorry, we're not in Greece. It's easy to forget while in Xanthi, so you can do everything except the last part. So instead of having ouzo we had some beautiful Greek wine, a glass of Notios Agiorgitiko for myself and Ramnista Kir Yianni for Gianna. We do love our vino here at the Empty Fridge and both wines were delicious enough for Diyonysus' approval. Another fun little fact is that Xanthi has one of the largest Greek wine lists and is well worth perusing. It's a different style of wine and I personally think that its the flavour that compliments the food which is the key for Greek varieties.
Fried veal sweetbreads $10.50 were one such dish that went well with the wine we were having. Little bundles of sweetbread crumbed and deep fried. Once again that wedge of lemon on the plate was there to drown those little bad boys. Crispy on the outside and full of soft juicy sweetbread goodness on the inside. My only complaint was that there wasn't more lemon, David had a laugh when i told him this and Gianna was quick to remind me that we were not at my grandparents place. There was no need to drown everything in lemon. Its a Greek mentality I think.
Fried Veal Sweetbreads
The kitchen has been designed to be open to view from the dining room so you can see the hustle and bustle going on as David works his magic with his team. He tells us that after working in the tiny Perrama kitchen in Petersham, he has finally gotten his dream kitchen.
The decor inside the restaurant is really nice. With a large Middle Eastern-esque rug taking up the floor space, drapes running the walls and the feature ceiling and gorgeous lamps. It feels like another world from the super bright and modern interiors of Westfield Sydney. You can definitely soak up the exotic atmosphere here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Workshop Espresso, Sydney CBD

Maybe its my optimistic nature that helps me believe that a great coffee and a hit of carbs can turn the most awful of days around. Okay, I do skate the thin border between caffiene afficionado and full blown coffee bean fiend..but there is no doubt that sitting down and enjoying a good brew can bring even the most dazed and confused zombies back to normal.
Workshop Espresso is the at the halfway point between my office and Demos' building. Sure is convenient! Located within the Galleries Victoria complex on George Street, right across QVB is this small hole in the wall with a super strong following. In the short time I've been working in the city, there has never been a time where I have been the only one waiting for a coffee alone and without a line.
You could easily walk past this unnasuming nook in the heart of town without noticing is, that is, if it wasn't for the faithful following queued up for a caffeine fix. Before work, at Lunch or to help combat the standard 3:30 pm mush - Workshop Espresso saves CBD zombies one espresso at a time.
Turkey and Crispy Pancetta toasted roll, $9.50 Picollo Latte, $3.50
Now I did briefly mention earlier that carbs, just like caffeine can turn a day around. This Turkey Roll is perfectly built with Sonoma bread which is stocked on hand. This roll can satisfy the biggest of lunchtime carb cravings with the salty crunch of the pancetta and lean turkey slices. But if your feeling a little precious at the start of the day, I'd say that this would cure a mean hangover too.
I know we Empty Fridgers need to change it up a bit with out coffee selection but I have no doubt in my mind that I will always be a picollo drinker. Full Fat/Leaded milk because I CBF asking for skim! After numerous visits, I realise that I am so at one with the Workshop Espresso following. The flavour is rich and bold hitting you with gusto and leaving a faint flavour to linger, putting an end to those caffiene cravings.
I do enjoy escaping to this little cafe when there is an opportunity to get out of the office. Light fills up the long and narrow space and reflects all throughout the warehouse inspired interior, reflected in the corrugated steel walls. This actually gives the cafe a sense of warmth, especially as you perch up on the bar stools and watch city life buzz by.


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